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Journal of African American Studies

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 408–424 | Cite as

“We Are in the Feminine Aspect Now”: Women Artists, Prince, and Visions of Utopia

  • H. Zahra Caldwell
ARTICLES

Abstract

Prince’s 1978 debut album For You credits the artist with production, arrangement, composition, and performance. This signaled not only his inimitable musical mastery but also his singular clarity of vision. Central to this vision were Prince’s unique aspirations to Utopia—a thread that would run throughout his musical career. This imagined society was rooted in nonconformity and, among many other things, granted men and women, Black and white, rich and poor equal access to love, sexuality, success, and peace. Utopian aspirations existed within the creative production of Prince’s earliest incarnation as an artist until his untimely death. A fictitious and very real Paisley Park, backing bands such as The Revolution, and record titles such as The Rainbow Children all point to his reach for a different more egalitarian world. This utopia would include significant challenges to constructions of race, gender, and the composition of Blackness. Prince’s singular vision of utopia cast women as essential to its creation. This paper specifically explores Prince’s unwavering support of women artists as well as their function in building and sustaining this vision. This discussion confronts the media focus on women in Prince’s musical life as simply paramours/muses and reinterrogates his commitment to female artistry and, above all, a utopian world.

Keywords

Prince Women musicians Utopia Funk Pop Vanity Sheila E Soul Patrice Rushen Women singers 1980’s Concerts Black studies Women studies Cultural studies Cultural history 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ethnic and Gender StudiesWestfield State UniversityWestfieldUSA

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